Believing Is Seeing
See YouTube at https://youtu.be/-BBZcLU8OW4
Believing Is Seeing
Acts 2:14a, 22-32
1 Peter 1:3-9
It seems that every good idea in the world is generally opposed by someone who sees such ideas as an impossibility. For example, engineers told Ford that a V8 engine was impossible to build. However, Ford believed that it was possible and believed that the problem could be solved. Therefore, out of his belief he threatened the jobs of his engineers as motivation for them to solve the problem and create the V8 engine. They could see his belief once he forced them to look at his belief because of his belief and what he saw already as a reality, his vision is still a reality today and we have actually doubled the engine sizes since then because we have moved past our limiting beliefs. The resurrection of Christ is no different here.
There are many who have a limiting belief that does not allow them to see that what the Bible says is true. They are stuck having to see before they will believe. Thomas was the same way when the Lord first appeared to the apostles. He was not there when Christ came and therefore limited his belief and therefore was unable to see the truth that the others had seen. His belief would not surpass his sight. Unfortunately, that is something that happens a lot in the world today. Jesus said blessed are those who have not seen him and yet still believe. This is because they are not seeing with their eyes but are seeing with their faith. To be honest this faith is far more powerful than any visual object that we can see and touch.
Many have and still do question the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter attests to the fact that he himself and other followers are witnessed to this resurrection. They have seen with their own eyes. Yet despite Peter’s testimony not everyone would believe unless they themselves could see or at least see a reason why to believe as well. However, faith is not seeing and then believing. Faith is believing and therefore by such belief we can see. Believing is seeing.
In this second chapter of Acts the people of Israel had just witnessed something amazing, the out pouring of the Holy Spirit, however, they did not understand what it was that they felt and saw or what it was that they were hearing. They were hearing these men speak a language that was not their own. There were so many cultures and languages located in this spot and each different nationality heard their own native tongue. They were seeing but they were unsure of what it was that they should be believing. Therefore, Peter takes the opportunity to explain to them the history of what had happened to Christ and how he was put to death by the people but how he was raised from the dead as death could not keep him in the grave. He has risen!
In our modern day it is natural for us to question the validity of things that we ourselves have not witnessed. Why should we believe that what the scriptures say is true? What if all of this was a lie and all made up by someone. However, to what gain would someone achieve by lying and making this story up. These men and early Christians were willing to lose their lives over this message. People do not die for a lie. They only die and suffer for the truth. And what is more this truth was a matter of eternal death and salvation. There have been those in our recent history of our world that have displayed courage beyond understanding and suffered for their faith in the Lord.
The Voice of the Martyrs has published a book written by Richard Wurmbrand who was a Baptist minister in Romania during the times of the Nazi Regime and the rise of Soviet Communism. The book is entitled Tortured for Christ and there is a movie documentary that encompasses it as well which I have had the privilege to see. Wurmbrand was a pastor working underground in a time of great tyranny from the Russian Soviets. Communism had taken over and the greatest enemy of communism was the message of Jesus Christ which would breed freedom thinking and individualism. This was something that the communist party did not want as the Christian faith taught people to think for themselves. Wurmbrand had been arrested and tortured on several occasions for his faith and for secretly preaching the gospel. However, during that time not once did he or his family show hatred for their captors. They loved and pitied their torturers as communism was the real evil and enemy. He had said that he loved the Russians but hated communism. The communist Russians did not just kill believers as the Nazi’s were known to do. In fact, this would have been merciful in comparison. They tortured Christians and attempted to brainwash them into believing in communism. Wurmbrand had said that the only way that he was able to resist the brain washing was through heart washing. He washed his heart from hatred and anger. This was only possible through his faith in Christ.
Wurmbrand described the most excruciating of pain and suffering while in prison. They were often put in tight wooden boxes surrounded by nail spikes. As long as they stood still, they would not feel any pain. However, they were forced to stand for hours on end and once fatigue would set in, they would waiver around and the sharp spikes would pierce their bodies. The would be hung upside down in a freezer to the point of near death and then would be brought out and warmed back up only to be put back in the freezer again until the point of near death. If they prayed or preached the word then they would be beaten severely. However, this never stopped these Christians from keeping their faith. Wurmbrand would pray everyday in his cell which angered his guards and they would beat him for it but he would never stop. At one point his wife had also been put in prison to work on building a canal and their son was forced to live on the streets. Wurmbrand yet was still praying. The guard yelled at him asking him what it was he was still praying for as he had nothing left. His wife was in prison and possibly dead and his son alone on the streets and possibly dead. Who could he possibly have left to pray for? Wurmbrand said, “I was praying for you.”
At one point while both he and his wife were in prison their son was at a time of questioning his faith and upbringing as all he saw now was pain a suffering and all that was taught in the schools was communism. He wondered why he should believe in a God that would allow such suffering. He had the opportunity to visit his mother in prison while she was behind the bars, she told him the believe in Jesus. This angered the guards and they pulled her away and began to beat her. He decided right then if his mother could believe even through all this torture and pain then he too could believe that this Jesus was true. This was his day of conversion and salvation.
Despite the atrocities of communism these people would not give up their faith. There was one young girl that Wurmbrand spoke of who had secretly been helping other Christians and had been spreading the gospel. The secret police wanted to torture her in the best way possible so they waited until her wedding day. She was dressed as a beautiful bride and just as the ceremony was finished they came bursting in and took her prisoner. She boldly put her hands forward to be cuffed and kissed her chains. She thanked God that she was worthy to suffer for her Christ.
Why would these people suffer the way they did for a lie? They suffered and were martyrs because they would not waiver from their faith. They believed and because they believed they could see that there was a reward greater than what they could imagine. I look at these stories and think about the hardships that we are all going through right now in this country through this pandemic. We think we have it bad because we must stay home and because we cannot be in our churches right now. Don’t get me wrong, some of the restrictions we have on us are a bit outrageous. However, what right do we have to complain in comparison to those who have had suffered through pure evil for their faith.
Believing is seeing. These Christian martyrs did not need to see Christ for themselves to believe that the scripture was true. They did not need to see Christ themselves to believe that their faith was worth suffering and dying over. They did not need to see in order to believe. Instead they believed and because they believed then they could truly see the truth in the Word. I pray that today that we can love our leaders of our country just as Wurmbrand loved the Russian communists who tortured him and held him captive. I pray that regardless of whether we agree with our leaders that we will continue to pray for them and pray that the truth of Christ will shine forth within their lives. I pray that we will continue to spread the good news on to others even through social distancing. I pray that the Church does not stop just because of a little bit of a short challenge in our lives. I pray that our vision will be guided by our belief and not the other way around. Have faith and blessed are you who have not seen the Christ but whom have only read his Word and yet still believe. May you see through the lens of your faith this morning.